County fairgoers urged to be cautious around animals

Health officials urge you to be cautious around farm animals. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked 12 cases of swine flu to agricultural fairs in Hawaii, Ohio and Indiana, local health officials are warning people to take precautions as they go to county fairs in Virginia and Maryland.

Fairgoers need to cautious after coming in contact with pigs and other animals.

“Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands,” says Prince William County Health Director Dr Allison Ansher. County fair season is in full swing. County fairs open Friday in Prince William County, Va. and Montgomery County, Md.

Ansher says it’s best to avoid eating in areas where animals are located.

“We are putting in an extra hand-washing station, and we are putting up posters to encourage people to wash their hands before and after handling animals,” Ansher says about the Prince William County Fair.

Ansher says the county is advising pig owners to watch their animals closely and to report any illness to the on-site veterinarian.

Swine flu symptoms begin similar to the regular flu with fever, chills and headaches. So far, no cases of swine flu have been reported in Maryland or Virginia.

In 2009, strains of swine flu led to thousands of deaths in the U.S.

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